"It's a ridiculous job," says Kim Powers, who drags her cloth in North Carolina. The pay is marginally better than what she'd get for flipping burgers, but she endures the torment less for the money than as a downpayment on a career in epidemiology. "It's hot as hell, I'm dressed head to toe to keep out the ticks, and I'm walking through the woods dragging a big white cloth, singing." She's been bitten by her subjects at least once and has nearly fainted from heat exposure, but so far she's missed the bull's-eye: no Lyme disease . . . yet.